At the Vortex 2005 conference in San Francisco, the Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik talked to John Gallant about competing with Sun and Red Hat's role as a standard bearer for the global open source community and the General Public License. The brand of Red Hat and freedom of choice--no lock-in--are increasingly becoming synonymous, he said. In Szulik's view, for customers software technology and service should be based on value delivered, not proprietary control.
Szulik also believes the "best idea wins," and as long as Red Hat "can continue to recruit and and advance the collective and best thinking regarding the future of computing technologies in an honest, open, transparent fashion, that legitimacy will allow us to continue the positon that we have."
We have a five-minute video clip from the interview.
He knocked those who add proprietary layers and market themselves as open source. "It has to be in the DNA of the culture in the service delivery model in order for open source to work...People are smart enough to see through the rhetoric and the BS."
Szulik isn't just thinking about the open source software in terms of technology. He is concerned intellectual property in the digital domain, and said he wants to be a though leader in democratizing content and using technology to improve society. A small number of companies filing thousands of patents could end up controlling the roots of innovation, he said. "Today it may be APIs, protocols and software libraries, but very shortly it's going to be content," Szulik warned. "Just try integrating Windows Media Player with Firefox and tell me how experience looks. The potential downside, in a world where application-to-application communication becomes the norm, network services become the delivery of all sorts of music, video, etc., where does all that future innovation come from and who owns it, especially when you leave the United States?"
With Red Hat Linux Szulik has shown that he's not tilting at windmills. Freeing content will be a much tougher challenge.